This was the picture at the top of my post last year on October 12th:
Today, temps are predicted to be close to 80 again. And this is where that same little ghost is hanging out today, with snow nowhere in our forecast:
If you don't have a green thumb or could care less about gardening, this post is not for you. This is intended to be a written reminder so that I will spend my plant money wisely next spring. Lessons to be learned!
Best Value for My Garden Dollar (in terms of care needed/longevity of blooms):
1. Impatiens - basic impatiens flowered in my garden beds, shady window boxes, and containers from the time I planted them in May and are STILL going strong. I splurged on a couple of tropical varieties (the yellow and salmon colored ones above, combined with a basic orange) for one of my window boxes, they grew like crazy (over 18" tall!) and are still blooming profusely. In the past I have ignored impatiens, as being too common, but they really work with the shade in my yard.
2. Coleus - If you are a regular reader you know I am a huge fan-they provide color all season long with very little care, and are a cinch to divide and multiply. Still looking lovely in my autumn garden.
3. Dahlias - I bought a whole flat of small plants through a school plant sale-while they took a little longer to get going than other plants did, you should see how huge they are now. Simply lovely, and cheerful.
Best Filler Plant for Containers and Window Boxes:
Sweet Potato Vine - in every color and variety. I even planted some of the dark purple in my beds, and the ones that didn't get eaten by our resident rabbit added wonderful contrast to the green plants.
1. Lisianthus. It isn't the plant's fault, I think I just put it in the wrong spots. Even though I planted nearly a dozen, only a couple meekly survived, and I only received two blooms. Bummer.
2. Empress of India Nasturtium. Again, my fault. I had planted it alongside our shed, hoping to coax it up the metal grid to hide the ugly plastic. It grew out rather than up, next year I will plant it in my herb bed instead. And buy a true climbing vine to do the job I thought it could handle.
Best Autumn Bloomer:
Aster. If you don't have any in your garden, get yourself one and plant it NOW. It will resemble a large green bush all summer, but when it decides to bloom in the fall you will be rewarded with days and days of blooms. The honey bees love them, and they will flock to your yard. Can you spy one in this picture?
On top of that, they self seed like crazy. I planted one small plant a couple of years ago, this year they covered nearly four square feet (or would have, if our rabbit hadn't eaten part of them....). And don't they pair lovely with dahlias?
Best Plant Food:
Bar none, it is Fish Emulsion. I fed my plants once a month, and they rewarded me handsomely. Forget Miracle Grow (unless you don't like the smell of dead fish....)
Guess which photo was taken in May, and which one in October? The only plant I added to the pot was the sweet potato vine. And as you can see, the violets didn't survive. I did divide the coleus from that plant and put it back in the container. The scented geranium (I believe this year it was nutmeg) and the angel wing begonia are ginormous. The wonders of Fish Emulsion.....
How did YOUR garden grow this year?